Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker

ABOUT:40867676

Name– The Night Before
Author– Wendy Walker
Genre– Mystery/Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Source– St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley
Katie’s case– 3.5/5

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DESCRIPTION:

Twelve hours earlier, she was…
Hopeful.
Excited.
Safe.
 

Now she’s gone. 

REVIEW: 

“If you keep leaving the herd, the wolves will come.”

The premise of Wendy Walker’s The Night Before is certainly a fresh one, diving into the modern world of online dating and its potential scares. I really enjoyed that this book focused on something so common in this day and age, but with more twists and turns as well as deeper issues. The plot starts simple, a blind date and a nervous girl with a damaged, and actually infamous past. The book focuses on more than the blind date, going into the territory of mental health, self awareness, and challenging upbringings. That’s all I really want to say about the plot itself, for fear of giving too much away, but just know its more than just a book about dating.

With that being said, I want to start out my review by saying that this blurb was PERFECT and should be a lesson to the whole thriller genre. The blurb was maybe five sentences, just enough to draw you in without giving a single plot line away. (Side rant: way too often I feel like I can basically guess the whole premise by just reading the long, drawn out blurbs and spoil the whole book for myself. Some blurbs give away the whole twist! OK end rant.)

As I said, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot itself, but I do want to share my thoughts about the other aspects of the book. I’ve actually been pretty torn on how to rate this one, because there were some parts I loved and some parts that I felt had potential but didn’t get all the way there. On one hand, I think the pacing was excellent and constantly kept me on my toes. This is going to be a huge hit this summer for the unique plot line and immersive writing alone. I actually had to force myself to turn off my Kindle and go to sleep- it’s that thrilling. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen, and who the real villains were.

Unfortunately I do think I figured out the plot twist a little too early for my liking, and would like to have been more surprised by the end, but that’s just personal preference. Some readers really love to use their armchair detective skills, so they would probably really enjoy this slow reveal. I think I just felt like the plot was a bit spoon-fed for me and tried to hard to make everything neat and perfect. Another possibility is that I read too much of this genre and can’t be totally shocked by what I read anymore, which is also just a personal issue!

Although I liked the pacing and the alternating perspectives, the other aspects of the writing fell a bit flat for me. I didn’t ever really connect with any of the characters, in fact, I didn’t really like any of them at all. I think they could use some more flushing out, maybe by making the book a bit longer and diving deeper into each of their histories? I don’t necessarily need likable characters, but I think I would have liked to see a bit more character development here. Although I do understand the book takes place in basically one day. Again, I really did love getting multiple perspectives on the same night and getting constant cliffhangers at the end of each chapter!

Overall, I think The Night Before is a fresh idea and I absolutely know it will be a hit this summer, I think it was just kind of middle of the road for me, and that’s ok. It was still a very fun read that I finished in a few sittings and would still most likely recommend to my other thriller friends! I will definitely be checking out Wendy Walker’s previous novels too.

Thank you NetGalley, Wendy Walker, and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of this novel and the opportunity to enjoy early in return for my honest review.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts? Comment below!

Review: Big Woods by May Cobb

ABOUT:bigwoods

Name– Big Woods
Author– May Cobb
Genre– Thriller, Mystery-Thriller, Crime
Source– Author/Netgalley
Katie’s case– 4.5/5

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DESCRIPTION:

It’s 1989 in the sleepy town of Longview, Texas, when ten-year-old Lucy disappears. Her parents, the police, and the community all brace for the worst, assuming her body will soon be found in Big Woods. Just like the other unsolved kidnappings.

But then Lucy’s fourteen-year-old sister, Leah, starts having dreams about Lucy—dreams that reveal startling clues as to what happened. Leah begins her own investigation, and soon she meets a reclusive widow who may hold the key to finding Lucy . . . if only she can find the courage to come forward.

Delving into the paranoia surrounding satanic cults in the 1980s, Big Woods is an emotionally wrought, propulsive thriller about the enormity of grief, the magical bond between sisters, and a small town’s dark secrets.

REVIEW:

May Cobb’s debut novel is a fantastic look on not only growing up in the 80’s, but also the inseparable bonds of sisterhood. Big Woods stands out for me amongst recent mystery-thriller novels, and had everything I love in a book: small town secrets, cult-y overtones, some great blast-from-the-past references, and a little sisterly magic.

Told by two incredibly fresh voices, a elderly woman and a young teenager, Cobb skillfully connects the reader to both of the differing personalities. I loved getting into the minds of two characters who were not of my relatable age or setting, but still felt like I could get to know them. As readers, we get to watch Leah grow through some of the classic weird teenage friendships, but also some dark adversaries. I felt Leah’s emotions and pain throughout the novel, thanks to vivid details and very relatable human emotion. And we get to know Sylvia’s past through twists and turns that made my jaw drop at times. I loved getting into the mind of an older woman, I felt this was a very new and fresh perspective for me and admired her story. Cobb also gives life to the setting itself, a small town completely consumed in Satanic Panic and the mysteries of the missing children. Although I would say some of the writing- particularly the metaphors and similes- didn’t completely land for me, I liked how I could practically hear the metal music and smell the pine trees from Cobb’s vivid descriptions throughout the book.

Without revealing too much, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has fascinations with small town mysteries paired with a little bit of cult secrets and finally some sisterhood magic. It encompasses so much depth to the characters, the town, and the writing. This novel stands out from a lot of the other thrillers on my bookshelf and doesn’t follow any sort of overdone formula, so it kept me guessing until the very last chapter and I couldn’t put it down. Great debut May!

Thank you Midnight Ink and NetGalley!

AUTHOR MAY COBB:
author goodreads